It is funny how we all remember some conversations - "Oh, he was terrible", said a very high profile, gender-critical person to me once. She was referring to Stephen Wood, also known as David Thompson and more infamously as one Karen White.
Karen White is one of the centre stones of 'terf ideology' - using an example of an individual case to smear the British transgender community. To be fair, the gender-crits did not manufacture the Karen White issue - it was 'manufactured' by the reporting of the national press.
In short, anti-trans or sloppy journalists saw the words 'transgender 'sex offender' 'rape' 'attack' 'prison' 'women' 'trial' 'female estate' and 'guilty' - not looking into the facts of the case. A few local reporters following the trial did, but they were drowned out by the national press and, in particular, the right-wing newspapers who love to headline anti-trans stories.
So the mud stuck.
And today, three years on, we are still trying to convince the vast majority of people of the injustice the trans community feels of the Karen White slur.
So let's look again at this case and hope that some decent journalist from the national media will lay the Karen White ghost one day.
The trial that got all the headlines took place in October 2018 at Bradford Crown Court.
The prosecutors were Mr Christopher Dunn, assisted by Miss Charlotte Dangerfield. The charges to which Stephen Wood (aka Karen White) was pleading guilty were that of multiple counts of rape, sexual assault, and unlawful (malicious) wounding. The earliest case of rape occurred in 2003, and previously Stephen Wood had served time in prison for indecent exposure and sexual assaults on children.
There was no question Stephen Wood had an abhorrent history of human abuse - he was a classic 'Category A' sex offender.
But what went wrong that enabled Wood to get transferred to the female-prison estate?
Actually, several things.
Wood was very aware that the Prison Service procedures at that time (they have subsequently changed) meant that he could self-identify as a trans woman and easily get transferred to the female estate. This offered Wood two significant advantages.
Firstly he himself would be in a safer environment. The male prison estate is not exactly welcoming of sex offenders unless they are housed in an 'all sex offender prison', such as HMP Stafford.
Secondly, he would be close to vulnerable cisgendered females and trans women - potentially more victims. As a remand prisoner, he also enjoyed more rights - bear in mind the sexual assaults that occurred while in prison were pre-trial.
Wood, on self-identifying within the prison system as "trans", was subsequently transferred to HMP New Hall, Wakefield (within the female estate), where he then started to wear a wig and female clothing using the name Karen White. Within a few days, White began to cause upset, and allegedly four incidents occurred these were:
(1) Stood close to another inmate, touched her arm and exposed herself.
(2) Pushed herself indecently against another prisoner.
(3) Kissed an inmate on the neck.
(4) Made inappropriate comments about oral sex and then put a female inmates hand on the ‘Whites left breast’ so she could feel her padded bra.
After complaints, White was interviewed about the alleged four incidents - but contested two of them. For the other two incidents where there was apparently witnesses, he agreed to plead guilty to the subsequent charges.
And so to court where Christopher Dunn, the senior prosecutor, said these words about Stephen Wood's sudden claim to be transgender when in the male estate:
Allegedly’ transgender. The prosecution says allegedly because there are smatterings of evidence in this case that the defendant’s approach to transitioning has been less than committed."
Then Mr Dunn added
“The prosecution suggests the reason for the lack of commitment towards transitioning is so the defendant can use a transgender persona to put herself in contact with vulnerable persons she can then abuse”.
The national press did not report these vital facts and statements. There was an image of White in a wig, and that was it - he was trans.
The Yorkshire Evening Post reported differently - but what chance have they got against the coverage of The Times, Daily Mail, Telegraph, The Guardian et al.
And more to the point, newspapers HATE admitting mistakes.
Even in high profile cases, eventual apologies are often buried in small print on page 19. In short, newspapers can often print whatever they want, and they can get away with it!
In sentencing, the judge Mr Christpopher Batty said:
"You are a predator and highly manipulative. In my view, you are a danger. You raped two women. You sexually assaulted two more. You stabbed an elderly male in his home. You don't accept any responsibility [for the offences]."
Stephen Wood serves his time in a male prison - but thanks to him and the errors of the prison service, bona fide trans women serve their time in male jails too.
And before we get into any gender critical cries of ‘well this is exactly what we said would happen with Self ID!’ let’s just firmly put a stop to that right here - prisons are a unique environment where we, as those who have a genuine respect for the safety of everyone, are making it clear that a problem existed but it is unique to prisons.
This is an isolated area where there is clear evidence of cisgender men identifying a genuine advantage to lie and take on a trans persona - there is simply no evidence that there is anywhere outside a prison environment where they have identified a similar advantage - they can already dress as a woman to gain easy access to any women’s space. Still, the clear evidence is they don’t see this as a viable opportunity in everyday life.
This is an issue unique to prisons, and we have no issue in highlighting this.
What is, however, just as important to note is that this vile case of Karen White was 3 years ago. Yet, still, his crimes are thrown at us time and time again as if proof of the danger trans women are - 3 years on and not only is the example used incorrectly as he isn’t transgender but none others have been highlighted - so it just proves how rare it is for such crimes to be committed by trans women.
Cisgender men still represent the genuine threat to women’s safety, and ‘Karen White’ is just another clear example of that MALE, cisgender threat.
Everyone - cisgender and transgender has the right to be safe while in prison. Sadly though, on average, a trans prisoner suffers a sexual assault in the male estate every thirty-three days.
Do the gender-critical care about this horrific fact?
No, of course not.
They dont care that trans women are threatened, beaten, raped.
They dont care that Karen White used a trans persona - its works for their agenda to ensure White is branded "trans."
We uncover the full and true situation of transgender crime stats and UK prisons in this feature article:
And the truth is Karen White only took on a trans persona once entering the prison estate.
Authored by Steph @PlaceSteph